Nine Lives by: Peter Swanson Narrated by: Jacques Roy, Mark Bramhall Publishedon: March 15, 2022 Publisher: William Morrow Number of Pages: 340 Audio Book: 7Hrs 11 Min
Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke – until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor.
FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next….
I am a sucker for any book with a number in the title. It is obviously a ploy to grab my attention and I freely admit that it works on me. You add on a not so subtle nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and then I am doubly interested. So now that I’ve finished it, did it work for me? Yes and No.
The Book of Cold Cases by: Simone St. James Publishedon: March 15, 2022
“The wind groaned in the eaves. The handprint faded. The figure moved back into the darkness. And the house was still once more.”
Shea is a divorced, 29-year old receptionist at a medical office. Outside of work she has is obsessed with true crime and runs a blog called The Book of Cold Cases that has quite a bit of followers. But her blog is also therapeutic for her as it helps Shea work through a traumatic experience that occurred when she was a child. While at work one day, Beth Greer, a woman who was acquitted for multiple counts of murder back in the 70’s, walks into the office. Everyone believes Beth got away with murder and Beth’s attitude during the trial made her infamous. But Beth and the events fascinate Shea and she can’t help herself – Shea asks if she can interview Beth and get her side of the story.
Op-Center #19 By: Jeff Rovin Published On: August 4, 2020
Ha! The timing of this book… I didn’t read the description closely enough when I started reading this book several months. All I knew was that it was a Tom Clancy/Jeff Rovin military thriller and I was all in! So imagine my surprise (and maybe discomfort) when the story reveals that the threat is a new, unknown supervirus. The story was good so I kept going, but eventually real life and my hobby (reading) were colliding a little too much so I had to put the book on hold.
My favorite part about these books is always the build-up. The ‘unknown’ happening over and over again with everyone scrambling to figure it out. This particular ‘unknown’ starts in multiple locations – a plane in mid-flight and the South African navy on a surveillance mission among some other instances. Although I’ve just met the characters in the story, the narrative still gave me enough to care about their survival or situation. It’s this part that keeps me hooked on the story and God of War did this part well. Then add the the political dynamics between the U.S., South Africa, China….it all made for a very entertaining story.
In the end, I enjoyed the book very much and found it a good way to escape even if it did mirror real life a little too closely this time around.
Rating: 4 stars
In Jeff Rovin’s Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: God of War, after the devastating outbreak of a killer super virus, the Black Wasp Team must prevent America’s enemies from gaining access to the most dangerous weapon the world has ever seen.
The passengers and crew on an Airbus en route to Australia suddenly begin coughing up blood and hemorrhaging violently as the plane plunges to the ground. There are no survivors.
A luxury yacht in the South Indian Sea blows up, and a lone woman escapes the contagion that has inexplicably killed everyone else on the boat.
A helicopter whose occupants have been stricken by an unknown illness crashes into a bridge in South Africa, killing motorists and pedestrians.
The world is facing a devastating bio-terror event, and a game of brinksmanship gets underway as the major powers jockey for position: China sends a naval flotilla to seek the source of the plague and find a way to weaponize it; Russia maneuvers quietly on the sidelines to seize the deadly prize in its quest to regain an empire; while back in Washington D.C., Chase Williams and his top secret Black Wasp special ops team must find out who is behind these deadly attacks before war is unleashed.
What is the secret linking an illegal diamond mining operation, a controversial cure for AIDS, an apartheid-era conspiracy to cover up attempted genocide, and a brilliant but utterly amoral entrepreneur with a score to settle? Black Wasp mounts an ingenious attack on two fronts, from the storm-tossed seas off South Africa to an edge-of-the seat-chase as they seek to find the truth behind this lethal disease before millions of innocent lives are lost.
Jack Sharpe #3 By: David Pepper Published On: June 2, 2020 No. of Pages: 431
Once upon a time this was fiction. When the thought of foreign influence was just something you would read in a thriller novel. Over the past few years, we’ve heard many different accounts and facts regarding elections, rights of voters, voting infringement, election stealing… We’ve also heard about how elections are being influenced through social media. And even though we have heard this on the news for several years now, I wonder how much the typical individual actually knows about voter files and voter data. What The Voter Files brings is an entertaining thriller that helps shed some light on how voter data is collected and used along with other major issues and dilemma’s the U.S. is facing.
It all starts when something astounding and unexpected happens. Tori Justice’s candidate won. Except…he wasn’t supposed to. Tori was the voter file manager for a local campaign. She knew the voting files backwards and forwards and no matter how she looked at it – nothing added up. Her candidate was supposed to lose. Most of us would take the victory lap. Tori, instead, called newspapers and journalists. She called anyone who would listen and Jack Sharpe is the one that answered her call. While Tori and Jack begin their investigation, we see “investors” buying up millions of land from farmers of all types – dairy, wheat, soybeans. Farmers giving up due to conglomerates squeezing the market, allowing foreign investors to see a way in.
The Voter Files! My favorite chapter(s) and part of the story was when Tori and Jack meet for the first time and Tori explains to him all about how the voter files and voter data works. As voters, when we respond and say “I will never, ever, evervote for “Candidate X”, you are then given a number between 1-5 that indicates your likeliness for voting a certain way. The number you are given will determine what type of ads or messages you then receive, it also prompts them to help send you reminders for voting. You see, it’s all about ensuring you remain engaged and excited to vote. It’s all about ensuring you vote. So, if you are a strong “Yes! I will vote for Candidate X”, then you could receive ads generated to ensure you remain emotionally engaged. An example would be an ad that others may see as over-the-top or emotionally charged. They aren’t there to change your mind, just ensure you still have the desire to vote the way you said you want to. Others that are in the middle – moderates, independents, and those still undecided might receive an ad or message more tailored to how the candidate will work across the aisle, or one that gives examples on their more moderate views. But the voting file is much, much more than that. State and national information mixed together with vendor information – all stored at the national level – always adding, never subtracting. The story goes into greater discussion and depth than I do here and it was fascinating.
I loved Tori. I loved her tenaciousness. It’s not just anyone would who question why their candidate won and then seek out someone to help look into her story. Even the losing candidate’s voting file manager was surprised by her when he found out what she was looking into. But beyond that, I found Jack’s and her partnership very enjoyable. Upon meeting her he immediately notices how their different generations respond/react differently, but even so they meshed very well together.
All in all, this thriller has exactly what you might expect: murder, subplots, certain individuals tracking and following other individuals, foreign actors, investigative work – just to name a few. It was a fun read that was very educational too. Although the title says The Voter Files it also covered other topics as well such as gerrymandering and monopolies.
Voting and elections are a very hot topic right now in the news, especially as the U.S. grows closer to November when the presidential elections will take place. This is the perfect time to read this book, especially if you are looking to become more educated on how some of the process works, but in an entertaining way.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group Punnam for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
Investigative reporter Jack Sharpe is down to his last chance. Fired from his high-profile gig with a national news channel, his only lead is a phonefull of messages from a grad student named Tori Justice, who swears she’s observed an impossible result in a local election. Sharpe is sure she’s mistaken…but what if she isn’t?
Sharpe learns that the most important tool in any election is the voter file: the database that keeps track of all voters in a district, and shapes a campaign’s game plan for victory. If one person were to gain control of an entire party’s voter file, she could manipulate the outcome of virtually every election in America. Sharpe discovers this has happened–and that the person behind the hack is determined to turn American politics upside down.
The more he digs, the more Sharpe is forced to question the values–and viability–of the country he loves and a president he admired. And soon it becomes clear that not just his career is in jeopardy…so is his life.
iME Series Book 2 By: Jem Tugwell Published On: June 4, 2020 No. of Pages: 336 Published By: Serpentine Books Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook, & Audio
iMe knew where everyone was. It saved their signal so that it also knew where everyone had been. There was nowhere to hide.
The beauty of this story lies in how it is set in a future that feels so close that you can almost touch it. Even now there are events mentioned in the news about how governments from certain countries are using devices, such as a bracelet, to track an individual’s location and health stats due to the coronavirus. The iME series takes it all a step or two further, but there is enough truth in the core of story to make it all very plausible and far too realistic.
Clive is the main protagonist in the series. He’s by far my favorite character and is so incredibly relatable. Dragging his feet into this future that he does not want is very taxing as it affects his job opportunities, his love life, and his personal freedoms. Choosing to not exercise or not to eat properly is a luxury we all currently have, but in Clive’s world freedom is a dream of yesterday. The iME sees it all and is determined to help Clive choose a better lifestyle. And if he doesn’t, then there is always the vending machine to turn him in to the Freedom Unit Enforcement under the Ministry of Well-being and Health branch of government, where you can be disciplined for not following the expected guidelines. What hope is there for Clive when he can’t live the life he wants?
The vending machine said: ‘Clive, my friend. What can I get you?’
But No Signal also begins to explore how it affects other areas of governing too. Even tourists entering the country for a short period of time are required to wear a special bracelet called the iTourist. Honestly, I would think this might discourage tourism and have a monetary impact that goes along with that, but if so there is no mention of it.
In No Signal, Clive is still at his same job, but this time he has a new partner – Ava. Zoe is still around, but she has moved on to another position. Life is boring for Clive in the Proximity Crime Unit, but what they don’t know is that four individuals from outside the UK are about to enter the country. They are playing a game with the goal of getting to a destination before their opponents can get to their own destination. It is all a pretense though and the real goal is much deadlier and with a purpose. While that goes on, Clive begins to sense a much broader conspiracy in place concerning members of government and perhaps something new called The Church of the New Modelists. But, in the end perhaps Clive is not alone in his frustration with how much iME really controls.
I like this series. I like how fully-fleshed out the idea of iME is within the context of this world – how far-reaching the technology is and the stranglehold it has on all aspects of society. Given how prevalent technology like this is becoming, I really like how it begs you to begin asking questions about how far is too far in terms of technology, freedom, and privacy, while giving you a rather thrilling and entertaining story all at the same time.
Rating: 5 stars
In a breathtaking follow-up novel to ‘PROXIMITY’, Serge says it’s the ultimate Augmented Reality game. He’s chosen his Ten carefully – the reckless, driven and strong. He tests them. Ten become Four.
DI Clive Lussac wants to fight the system that controls everything, but he’s ill and losing the people closest to him. In the middle of eco-protests, he’s lost four tourists.As Clive’s world unravels, he and his partners DC Ava Miller and DS Zoe Jordan race to find the tourists and the true reason behind the game. It may already be too late.
A CONTROLLED POPULATION The UK has embedded technology – iMe. It knows where you are…all of the time. It controls what you eat. It has eradicated crime and made everyone healthy.
A DEVASTATED WORLD The world is on the brink. The Government talks but it doesn’t act. It thinks it’s safe.
TIME FOR CHANGE Who will ignite change? Who has the determination to see it through? What will be sacrificed for the cause?
No Signal is Available at the Following Locations:
Serpentine Books is running a Copter competition to give a way 2 signed copies of Proximity (open to UK addresses only): Rafflecopter Giveaway
Jem Tugwell Author Profile:
Jem Tugwell is a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University.
NO SIGNAL is the second book in the iMe series and follows his thrilling debut novel PROXIMITY.
Jem is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. In a past life, Jem had a successful career in technology and investment management, and he lives in Surrey with his wife and dog. He has two great children. Outside of his family and writing, Jem’s loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.
David Adams #2 By: Chad Zunker Pages: 247 Published On: May 19, 2020
What a delightful read to run across. It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a conspiracy thriller and boy have I missed them. I had almost forgotten how fun they can be and how sucked in I can get as pages furiously fly by as I get caught up in all the twists and turns. This is also my first novel to read by Chad Zunker.
DI Kim Stone #12 by Angela Marsons Published on: May 13, 2020
This is only the second book I’ve read by Angela Marsons, but she and this series have very quickly become one of my favorites. There are several reasons for this – the first is that I have come to appreciate the research that have gone into the stories. Many stories have twists and turns and those stories are all very enjoyable. But within the DI Kim Stone series there is a theme or social issue the detectives are focused as they work through the case. In Killing Mind, the issue being brought to light are cults. Why does someone join? How do they attract members? How do they retain members? How does someone leave the cult? If they do leave, what happens afterwards? The narrative of this story focuses specifically on Unity Farm, which encourages individuals to remove themselves from their past, their electronics, and their family, which they call blood relatives since Unity Farm members are their only family now. As the team investigates they discover the murdered victim(s) have a connection to this farm and DI Stone has Tiffany go undercover to gain more information on who is there and how it works.
Detective Gina Harte #6 by Carla Kovach Published: May 7, 2020
Her Last Mistake opens to the wedding reception of Kerry and Ed Powell. Kerry is one of Holly’s closest friends, which also includes Lilly and Francesca. Together, the four girls have called themselves the “Awesome Foursome’ since school days. During the party, the man Holly has been secretly seeing tells her he wants to talk to her. She’s hoping he has finally come to terms with some news she has shared with him so she does as she’s asked and goes to the meeting place. The reader is never given the man’s name, so we have no idea who is approaching her when she is attacked and killed.
Aleksandr Talanov Thriller #4 By: James Houston Turner Published On: April 2, 2020
Money. It’s all about money. Actually, a lot of money (1.5 billion). The boss of a Hong Kong crime syndicate named Dragon Head wants that money and he almost has it in his reaches when he hits a snag. This particular snag requires Talanov, and so “associates” of Dragon Head are sent from Hong Kong to hunt him down and bring him back.
Wall of Silence opens with the inner thoughts of the person who has stabbed Patrick Byatt, the husband and father of the family. It is automatically clear that one of the three children is responsible for it and there is a cover-up being formed, not to mention overall panic. Soon, Melissa comes home from a bike-ride to find her husband bleeding on the kitchen floor. The children provide some responses to her questions on what happened, but being their mother it doesn’t take her too long to realize the answers aren’t completely truthful.
As you read, the author gives you a very well-rounded view of what a gossipy small town neighborhood might be like. The Byatt’s live in a village called Forest Grove labeled “Utopia of the Woods,” where everything is seemingly perfect and serene. That is except for the Byatt’s, who have had their share of tragedies due to the death of one of their sons several years prior – Joel – and one involving Melissa’s mother.
The neighbors and the village play a decent-sized role within the story as well. Sprinkled through-out the book are “Forest Grove Facebook Chit Chat Group” chapters, where we read the messages being sent in real-time by their neighbors and what they are relaying to each other in regards to the events and what they think about them. In these text/chat messages we get a more accurate sense of their inner feelings and prejudices that social media tends to bring out of some. Sniping, conjectures, rumor-starting….
One of the main factors that will most likely determine whether or not you fully invest into this story is whether you can related to the style of the narrative and overall storytelling. It has a different type of presentation than other thrillers especially with the ‘chit-chat’ group chapters, but probably accurately reflects a lot of what you might see in different social media outlets. It wasn’t quite my style, but that is just me and I feel confident this will work for others.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Melissa Byatt’s life in Forest Grove seems as perfect as can be: a doting husband, three loving children and a beautiful house in a close-knit community. But appearances can be deceiving.
One evening, Melissa arrives home to the unimaginable: her husband lies stabbed on the kitchen floor, their children standing calmly around him…With horror, she realises that one of them is to blame. But which one? And why would they attack their own father?
Her loyalties torn, in a split second she decides to protect her children at all costs—even if that means lying to the police. But when someone in the neighbourhood claims to know more than they should, Melissa discovers that some secrets are beyond her control…
Can she find out the truth of what happened before the rumours spread? And can the family unite to escape the spotlight of scandal—or are none of them as innocent as Melissa insists?